The 14th March saw the release of IE9, Microsoft’s latest offering in the much publicised battle of the browsers, and by all accounts they have created one of their best browsers to date. However, IE9’s success was short lived as the 22nd March saw the release of Firefox 4 which promptly left dust in the eyes of IE9 by scooping well over double the amount of downloads on its first day.

Even though IE9 has been wildly hailed as a sign Microsoft are stepping up their game, it still wasn’t enough to fend off the young competition from Firefox 4 which gained 7.1 million downloads in its first day. As well as faster loading, increased privacy and stronger security, the new Mozilla browser includes improvements to HTML5, including WebM video, CSS3 and javascript. It also includes access to hardware accelerated graphics (on Windows) which offers users faster graphic rendering and thus more complex gaming which can run within the browser. Unlike IE9, Firefox can also be run with Windows XP which is one of the widest used operating systems.

Microsoft’s past browsers have suffered disappointing reviews from the tech community, however IE9 was considered by many as a big step forward and within its first day generated 2.3 million downloads. Just as with Firefox 4, IE9 includes vastly improved HTML5 which includes a plugin for WebM,CSS3, javascript and access to hardware accelerated graphics. However the improvements were just not enough to catch up the likes of Mozilla who have long been streaks ahead.

CNET has recently issued a report detailing how each browser stood up in a head to head test on boot time, memory usage, Javascript and HTML5 performance. Even though the results are close and IE9 received an honourable mention, Firefox 4 just sneaks ahead of its competitors. Check out the full report here.

After being quashed in the downloads race, IE9 suffered further bad press after the reports emerged that some early adopters were suffering problems with Google Maps embedded into sites, however now this glitch seems to have been ironed out.

However, regardless of the overwhelming success of Firefox 4, Mozilla has slowly been losing their market share. The decrease in Firefox users can almost wholly be contributed to the growing use of Chrome, which has shot from a 1% share to 10%.

IE9 is a much celebrated step forward for Microsoft, although unfortunately it seems they have fallen so far behind their competitors they will continue to play catch up for a while. Bring on Chrome 11 and let the battle continue we say.

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